Lithuania’s 17th Government takes oath

17th Lithuania's Government
DELFI / Domantas Pipas

The members of the new Cabinet include Kęstutis Navickas, chairman of the Coalition of Lithuanian Environmental Organizations, as environment minister, Žygimantas Vaičiūnas, Lithuania’s former energy attache in Brussels, as energy minister, and Vilius Šapoka, a former director of the Financial Services and Markets Supervision Department at the central Bank of Lithuania, as finance minister.

Raimundas Karoblis, a diplomat who held the post of deputy foreign minister in the outgoing government of Social Democratic Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius, becomes the next defence minister, and Liana Ruokytė-Jonsson, an actor, translator and culture diplomat, gets the job of culture minister.

Linas Kukuraitis, a social science expert who now heads the charity organization Caritas of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vilnius, was appointed as social security and labor minister, and outgoing Energy Minister Rokas Masiulis, an economist by profession, was given the post of transport minister in the new coalition government.

Aurelijus Veryga, a professor of biomedical sciences and a member of the new Seimas, was approved as health minister, Jurgita Petrauskienė, former director of the research and higher education monitoring and analysis center MOSTA, as education and science minister and Mykolas Romeris University’s professor of law Milda Vainiutė as justice minister.

Linas Linkevicius, a Social Democrat, stays on as foreign minister for the second consecutive term in office.

Other members of the new Cabinet include Mindaugas Sinkevičius, a Social Democrat who has held the post of mayor in the central Lithuanian district of Jonava since April 2011, as economy minister, Eimutis Misiūnas, a judge, as interior minister, and Bronius Markauskas, a farmer and former chairman of the Lithuanian Chamber of Agriculture, as agriculture minister.

The Cabinet is made up of 11 ministers proposed by the Lithuanian Peasant and Green Union and three proposed by the Social Democratic Party, however, the majority of the new government’s members are not affiliated with any political force.

President Dalia Grybauskaitė on Tuesday also signed a decree, accepting the resignation of the outgoing government of Social Democratic Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius. The decree takes effect on Tuesday.

Earlier in the day, the Lithuanian parliament endorsed the program of the new coalition government of the Peasant and Green Union and the Social Democratic Party. Titled Sustainable Lithuania, the program was approved in a vote of 86 to three with 40 abstentions.

Among those against the program were opposition conservatives and the Liberal Movement, while another opposition party, the Order and Justice, split – three of the party’s members voted in support of the program, three abstained. Those in support were the Peasant and Green Union, the Social Democrats, the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania – Union of Christian Families and members fo the mixed group.

The 17th government’s program gives a special focus on social issues, such as complete support for the family, the promotion of child adoption, the protection of children’s rights, the fight against violence and pro-birth policies.

The government also pledges to make efforts to reduce alcohol and tobacco access, to seek increased responsibility for corruption crimes and to cut down on the number of state institutions.

It also proposes to move parliamentary elections from autumn to the start of the year, to legalize dual citizenship and electronic voting, to relocate the ministries for environment and agriculture to Kaunas, and to prohibit parliamentarians from holding ministerial posts.

Parliamentary opposition parties have criticized the program as too vague and say that it does not include a significant part of the coalition parties’ pre-election promises, lacks political leadership and fails to set a clear direction for the new government.

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